Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Like the title? Isn’t it cool? Doesn’t it sound like some 1950’s atomic horror movie, filmed in cinemascope? Well this story is about a real person, the mysterious and enigmatic Jack Parsons, an occultist and rocket scientist whose work in advancing space exploration was rewarded with a lunar crater being named after him. As one might suspect crater Parsons is on the dark side of the moon. OK, I know that despite the claims of such experts in astronomy as Pink Floyd, there is really no such thing as the dark side of the moon, but in this case it just sounds so appropriate.
My first encounter with the man who was born Marvel Whiteside Parsons, was in the pages of The Big Book of Conspiracies.(1) Now for those of you not familiar with TBBoC, it is an over sized comic book, put out by a DC Comics subsidiary that takes the most outlandish conspiracies of the twentieth century and puts them in a blender with the drawings of some avant-garde artists and then makes a visual smoothie out of them.
According to TBBoC in 1947 Parsons and his buddy L. Ron Hubbard went out in to the California desert and cast a spell as part of something called “Babylon Working” As a result they opened the door to another dimension, one which allowed flying saucers access to our world. In the finial panel of this section there was a picture of an alien Grey looking much like the Great and Dreadful Cthulhu. (2)
Cool stuff, unfortunately TBBoC, isn’t really concerned about facts. And the part about ‘Babylon Working’, which is a little over two pages, has at least four blaring inaccuracies. First it was called Babalon Working not Babylon Working. (3) The project was named after The Great Mother in Thelemic belief, not the city in Mesopotamia. It also says that the B.W.’s goal was to open a cosmic gateway “Thereby granting the ‘Old Ones’ full and unimpaired entry into our reality.” (4) The results that they were looking for are actually even more fantastic. Next, the drawings in the book make it look like they are trying to conjure a big fat giant flying head of Alistair Crawley, not the hot red headed chick the two guys were hopping to (and apparently did) magically summoned. And finally, the biggest piece of evidence that the TBBoC crew didn’t do due diligence in their research, it proclaims that a mountain on the moon was named after Parson not a crater (5) (Come on guys mountains and craters point in the opposite directions.)
So who was Jack Parsons, and what did he do? I am so glad you asked. Born in upscale Pasadena, the man who would be one of the founders of modern rocketry was abandoned as a teenager by his well to do father. This apparently led to a hatred of authority figures and traditional mores. Many Christian bloggers, have labeled him a Satanist, I disagree with that label, I see him and feel he saw himself more as a dark magician than anything else. However he did claimed to have successfully summoned the Devil at the age of thirteen, this event it is said to have figuratively and literally scared the hell out of him. (6)
What can’t be denied is his contribution to rocket science. Though never graduating college he helped form the famed Pasadena Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Aerojet the biggest supplier of fuel for the space shuttle (7). His brilliance lead to the advancements of Jet Assisted Take Off and solid fuel rockets like the Polaris and the Nike, but it is an occultist that Parsons has gained the most notoriety.
Parsons developed Bablon Working as this kind of meta-spell to end the Aeon of Osiris and bring forth the Aeon of Horace (8) by the means of a magical ‘Moonchild’ . Plainly stated, it means they were trying through the use of magic to conceive a messiah who would end the dominance by patriarchal religions and create a realm where self realization was the driving force. Or to put it more plainly they were going to have sex and use drugs until Christianity just went away.
To understand the social and sexual dynamics of the group associated with Babalon Working, you have to understand that they believed monogamy was based on jealousy, and if your partner wanted to move on to someone else you were in the wrong to try to keep him or her to yourself (9). So when Jack-Jack’s wife Helen, was on vacation he began an affair with her younger half-sister, who he called Betty (her real names was Sara Northrop) Telling his ex, flatly that though she was a better person, he liked Betty more in bed. (10) Now to be fair some accounts have Helen straying first. Unfortunately his new love interest could not be the mother of the forthcoming Moonchild, Betty was a blonde and he needed to impregnate a red headed woman for the ceremony. (Apparently hair dye wouldn’t cut the mustard, in arcane rituals.)
So Parsons and future founder of The Church of Scientology, L. Ron Howard, went out to the Mojave Desert to summon up a hot looking red headed woman. One who was willing to be the mother of a mystical child who would lead a new world order. Their faith was rewarded in the form of one Marjorie Cameron. A beautiful fiery red head, that spent most of World War II, incarcerated because she had gone AWOL from the Navy to see her brother who was an injured Army Air-corp tail gunner. She and Jack began to immediately engage in ritual rites, er, uh I mean having sex.
Though deemed a success, Babalon Working never produced a physical child. And well and last time I looked Christianity and other patriarchal religions like Islam and Judaism are still around, but I guess that is not the important part, the important part is that Parsons Said it was a success (Well at least that was the important part for Jack.)
Meanwhile, Betty got bored as Jack fooled around with his ‘scarlet woman’ and ran off with his money and L. Ron Hubbard. Betty’s relationships with men were so disruptive that Alistair Crawley the guy who started this whole, no one partner rule, felt he had to declare her a ‘sexual vampire.’ (11)
Well Jack, who seemed to have forgotten this whole no jealousy thing, raced to the harbor, chasing after his lover, only to arrive moments to late to prevent Hubbard and Betty’s boat from leaving. So he did what any good, spurned black magician would do, he angrily went to a hotel room preformed a ritual to an aspect of Mars and conjured up a storm that snapped the mast of their sailing boat, forcing the arrant lovers to be rescued by the coastguard.
In 1950 Parsons was broke and under investigation by the FBI for improperly handling classified documents. They also accused him of practicing an alternative religious lifestyle, which in the nineteen-fifties Pasadena was deemed a possible a federal offense. Parsons openly discussed his beliefs with the FBI, who took copious notes. I think they should have been more concerned more about his possibility of being a security leak, than his habits as an occultist. I suppose that in the 1950’s anyone with a divergent life style was a possible blackmail risk, but Parsons was very open with what he was doing, thus could not be blackmailed because of it. So the FBI deemed him a deviant, but could not prove espionage, eventually he lost his security clearance and his job, but the case did not go to trial, (12)
Jack Parsons was eventually killed when rocket fuel, he was storing his house exploded. Friends and conspiracy theorist thought that he was assassinated by a sinister shadow government, in an attempt to silence a mystical and perverted pro-communist, but lets be honest here, anyone keeping volatile fulminate of mercury in their home is just asking to be a recipient of A Darwin Award.
There is no way that I can distill such a strange and interesting life in three and a half pages but hopefully I did a more accurate and at least as entertaining job as TBBoC, did, I must admit I am surprised more people don’t know about Parsons. Maybe it is a conspiracy?
(1) Monench, Doug, The Big Book of Conspiracies. Paradox Press, 1995.
(2) Monench, Doug, The Big Book of Conspiracies. Paradox Press, 1995. Pg 81-84
(4) Monench, Doug, The Big Book of Conspiracies. Paradox Press, 1995. Pg 83